We are already seeing how Artificial Intelligence can begin to make creative projects, acting as a form of artificial creativity.
But will it ever be able to truly create a piece of art?
In the interesting video above, host Mike Rugnetta from the PBS Idea Channel discusses his interpretation of whether a computer is able to create something which we would agree is art.
It is a complicated question which brings up some surprisingly nuanced interpretations of what it means for something to be considered art.
And ultimately, while the definition of art will vary between people, communities and over time, it will always require a human to give their approval that it fits with the definition of art.
What is art anyway?
So what is my definition of art? I’m not sure if it is perfect, but I would say it is something along the lines of:
Art is: The skillful and intentional execution of an original idea which conveys a message
If we remember that an idea, especially a creative idea, needs to have both novelty and value, there are a number of components in that definition which all need to work together.
- Skill: Is the artist better at executing their ideas than most people, or produce a more professional / pleasing result? Here, anything which reduces the need for skill, such as Smartphone photo filters, reduces the artistic merit of the result.
- Intentionality: Did the artist have an original idea in mind of what they wanted the end result to be, and worked towards that result? This, combined with skill, usually makes up the “style” of the artist. Here, copying (or just performing) someone else’s idea reduces the artistic merit of the result.
- Message: Does the artist want their work to convey a specific message about the subject beyond the superficial, or illicit a feeling from it? Here, having an output which just represents reality without a deeper meaning reduces the artistic merit of the result. However, this is complicated when other people search for meaning which isn’t there.
The boundaries here will always be blurry, and up for interpretation by various experts and fans. It really is true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the same often goes for art.
After all, there so many examples of artistic pieces which incite fierce debate about whether they should be classified as art at all as it is not clear whether they have a message or skill behind them, including a urinal (Fountain, by Duchamp), a dirty bed (My bed, by Tracey Emin), a blue painting with a white line (Onement VI, by Barnett Newman, which sold for $44 million!) and a dead sheep (Away from the Flock, by Damien Hirst).